Emailing Obama wasn’t enough. I needed to take action here, in Georgia before it was too late. By this time Troy Davis had become well-known amongst the students of Alpharetta High School. I spent the last few weeks of the school year gathering signatures for a hastily written petition to Governor Sonny Perdue.
May 12, 2009
To the Honorable Governor Purdue
As we are sure you are aware of, one of the most prominent criminal cases in Georgia history has been the Troy Davis case. In 1989, Troy Davis was arrested for the murder of police officer Mark MacPhail, and in 1991 he was convicted and sentenced to death. However, there was no physical evidence, no gun, and no DNA to link Davis to the crime. Davis was instead convicted on the sole testimony of nine eyewitnesses. Now seven of those nine witnesses have recanted. Some of them cited police intimidation and coercion, and of the two who did not recant, one is the primary alternative suspect, and the other initially stated he could not tell who the shooter was, and then changed his story at the trial two years later and pointed out Davis. One witness who recanted stated, “I told them I didn’t know anything about who shot the officer, but they kept questioning me. I was real young at that time and here they were questioning me about the murder of a police officer like I was in trouble or something. I was scared… it seemed like they wouldn’t stop questioning me until I told them what they wanted to hear. So I did. I signed a statement saying that Troy told me that he shot the cop.”.
This raises grave doubts about Davis’s guilt and about whether Officer MacPhail is truly receiving justice. All of this evidence has not been looked at in a court of law, and to allow Davis to be executed when such an enormous doubt to his guilt remains is a true travesty of justice. One of the truly great things about this nation is that it is based on a system of justice and liberty, and that in the chance that someone is unfairly convicted, there are institutions in place to ensure that justice is delivered. The powers vested in you and your office, Governor Purdue, is one of those institutions. You have the power to stop this injustice. You missed several opportunities; in 2007, and multiple times in 2008. Now you have one, in 2009. Davis’s stay of execution, issues from the Eleventh District Circuit Court, Expires on May 15th. You can tell the Georgia Board of Paroles to issue a stay of execution and to allow for a new trial for Davis.
Davis’s legal resources are running out. After a narrow 4-3 decision in the Georgia Supreme Court denied his appeal, the US Supreme Court and Eleventh District Circuit Court denied his appeal (in a 2-1 decision), there aren’t many more legal resources. In the Georgia Supreme Court decision, Chief Justice Sears stated, “If recantation testimony, either alone or supported by other evidence, shows convincingly that prior trial testimony was false, it simple defies logic and morality to hold that it must be disregarded categorically.” There are only days left in Davis’s stay of execution, and if action isn’t taken soon, an irreversible mistake could occur.
We are not arguing for or against the death penalty. We only want justice for Troy Davis and for Officer MacPhail, and there are grave doubts that either will be achieved by Davis’s execution. As the younger generation, as tomorrow’s leaders, we urge you to take a stand for justice by stopping this. A true visionary, and a true leader, does what’s right, now what is politically popular. It is not so often that we find ourselves in the position to save a life, to truly be a hero and help someone desperately in need, but you have the power and to make a great change in the way people see you, the State of Georgia, and our justice system. All of us at Alpharetta High School urge you not to miss this opportunity.
After gathering over one hundred signatures, I mailed the petition to the Governor. I never received a reply.